We are students, hear us roar

Taconic High School students march around the running track during a rally at the school's athletic field in Pittsfield, Mass. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. Students in the Pittsfield school system walked out of class in solidarity with victims of the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

How often do we hear the older generation saying that young people are the future? They say that we are the next doctors, politicians, actors, lawyers, activists, etc. They are right in saying this, but they seem to lack the courage to stand behind our ideas and movements in a critical time. After America’s most recent mass school shooting, and yes, it has come to saying “the most recent” shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have been actively speaking out about the next steps we need to be taking to ensure that no student ever has to fear for their life in order to get an education again. While they are receiving immense support, they are also getting hit with scrutiny and being brushed aside.

High school students from Florida have sparked a major discussion on media about gun control laws and how they need to be altered to provide a safer environment for Americans. For the most part, they have received encouragement from teachers, parents and established adults such as Barack Obama, who tweeted, “Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.”

However, not all adults can get on board with the idea that 17 year olds are beginning to stand up and use their voices to create change. Bill O’Reilly tweeted, “The big question is: should the media be promoting opinions by teenagers who are in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases?” First of all, yes, we are in an emotional state right now, but I find it more concerning that you are not. I am so sick of the political responses to these tragedies. They are so emotionless and impersonal. We aren’t looking for your apologies and your prayers, we want you to fight for change! This is what these students are demanding of you.

Stephen King, best-selling American author, tweeted, “The NRA thinking: ‘They’re just kids. They’ll get all excited about their proms or their Facebook walls or something; maybe some new singer or fashion trend.’ Don’t worry. They’ll forget.’ Not this time,” showing his support for the teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the rest of the youth speaking out. People think we’re in over our heads, and maybe we are, but it is better to be in over our heads than to be sitting back and waiting on change provided by ‘grown-ups’ that have never come through in the past.

People don’t understand how it feels to go in to a classroom and no longer feel safe learning. I do. The students from my high school in Sandy Hook do. The students in Florida know too; but it isn’t just about us anymore. No student feels safe. We have no way of knowing where this could happen next, we don’t know which places we can feel safe so we end up on guard everywhere we go. It is keeping us from living our lives the way teenagers should. It isn’t fair to speak up for ourselves and our safety in our everyday lives and be laughed at and brushed aside is probably one of the worst feelings. A student from Florida tweeted, “To the politicians saying this isn’t about guns, and that we shouldn’t be discussing this [right now]: We were literally being shot at while trying to gain an education. So this is about guns. You weren’t in the school while this was happening. We were, and we’re demanding change.”

J.K. Rowling’s once wrote that there is a time when, “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy." The time has come for this choice. I sincerely hope our country listens to its youth, and makes the right choice.

Kaitlyn Pierce is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached be reached via email at kaitlyn.pierce@ucon.edu.